Skip to main content

Secular Jews rediscover Jewish heritage

Tel Aviv council member Mickey Gitzin explains how secular Jews have created their own narratives and celebrations in regard to the Feast of Weeks celebration on May 23-24.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets children, dressed up for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot, before the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem June 1, 2014. REUTERS/Dan Balilty/Pool (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) - RTR3ROMA
Read in 

The traditional all-night "study awakening" of the festival of Shavuot, known in Hebrew as Tikkun Leil Shavuot (the custom of studying the Torah throughout the night of Shavuot), was once commemorated only by religious Jews and a handful of secular Jews who peeked in. This year, dozens of alternative events are being held all over Israel, offering the experience of studying subjects related to Judaism and Jewish culture linked to a secular identity on the May 23-24 Feast of Weeks.

Such alternative events include an evening at the Georgian Vegan Nanuchka restaurant examining “the way our choice of nutrition impacts the environment, animals and our health, with a link to the Jewish bookshelf [mostly religious research]”; the "Garden of Eden" event at Beit Daniel for Progressive Judaism, featuring director Shira Geffen, Dr. Doron Lurie and Rabbi Meir Azari, with a performance by singer Corinne Alal, culminating in a “dawn Shaharit prayer concert on the banks of the Yarkon River”; and an evening at the Zappa Club in Herzliya with singer Avraham Tal and actor Shai Avivi who will be discussing “the long road to true love: about the Sisyphean task of conserving love in daily life and the tension between corporal love and endless godly love.” Singer Shlomi Shaban and poet Dori Manor will also hold a “musical dialogue on the subject of freedom and choice.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.